The everyday ways people influence one another is astounding.
I see what you see – the pain it can cause, as well as the life it can create.
I believe there are seven types of people influencing our decisions daily:
(I’ll get to that last one in a moment.)
In all of these, two things are true:
- Experience doesn’t equal wisdom, but wisdom does lead to experience.
- Proximity doesn’t always lead to intimacy, but intimacy always leads to proximity.
Family/Parent: From the day we’re born, a “relative community” surrounds us – be it biological or adopted. Sometimes it’s in the form of surrogate guardians who become like family. No matter where you go in life, these people follow you – be it by their loving interest, smothering annoyance or simply through your memory of them.
- Tip: We all have stories from our families that we wear like jewelry. Think about that – we actually use our real-life interactions with real people we’ve really grown up with as clichés, conversation pieces or excuses regarding who we are in comparison. Instead of using your family as illustrations, engage them as people that Jesus died for and rose for. However long it takes, put one foot in front of the other through Christ to get from where you are with them to where you could be.
Friend/Peer: We unconsciously agree on a pace and purpose for life based on the people we’re around or see as equals. Their lateral examples don’t just tell us the “ideal” things to buy, say, or do, but they can become our gauge for how we’re doing – like when you step out of line in the grocery store and wonder if you made a good decision or not, so you look at someone you were standing by to see how fast/slow that “place-marking individual” gets to where you could’ve been.
- Tip: Think about your last high-five moment with a friend. Maybe it was about something as trivial as a movie or TV show you both enjoy, or perhaps it was over an actual breakthrough in life. Note whatever you dabble in celebrating most together – be it the superficial or the genuine – and then work to include more of the other in this next season to add some fun or deepen your life together.
Consultant/Advice: When you’re stuck and need perspective, you’ll look for counsel from others who may know something about it. This may be across the table with someone knowledgeable, but it can also be a general shout-out online for “anyone” who can offer you an idea or perspective.
- Tip: Sit down with someone you trust has your best interests at heart and give him/her permission to speak complete honesty into you – from words of encouragement to words of direction. Write everything shared with you into a notebook, and then prayerfully review it in the days that follow to develop an action step out of it.
Strategist/Planner: There will be times in life when you know where you’re trying to go but don’t know how to get there. Perhaps you’ll set up a one-on-one meeting to discuss financial goals, hire a personal trainer to purse physical goals, meet with a counselor to get unstuck emotionally, and so on. You may simply turn to a trusted friend and say, “I can’t start this without a push or two. Will you come alongside of me so I take my first step, and then another, and then another?”
- Tip: Sometimes we need to trust another person’s actual template over our own not-yet-fully-fleshed-out one so that we can actually take ownership of a plan. Accordingly, invite someone you feel is mature and rooted to become your consultant on something short-term. Apply at least one major component of their wisdom, if not all of it. Maybe you’d do things differently, but there can be fresh life in fresh perspective.
Positional/Boss: We all answer to someone, whether we’re at the top and have a crowd to appease or down below and have to deal with supervisor(s) above us. Such positions are not always spelled out clearly, though. There are people of power around you who may not hold an official title but what they say on the sideline impact you on the frontline – at times, more than anyone you’d find on the actual organizational chart. There are also positions below you that you need to let “lead up” into you.
- Tip: Have an informal lunch or beverage a week with someone who has influence over you. Likewise, daily invest into someone you have influence over.
Guru/Model: Call this person your Yoda, as they’re your wise sage or example of who you want to be when you “grow up.” Keep in mind, they don’t need to be your overall guru or model in everything. They actually just need to have tenure or perspective in something you hope to excel at.
- Tip: Figure out who this in your life and spoil him/her with appreciation. In return, ask for a quarterly connecting points and a yearly appointment to bring a BRIEF summary of life along with your own defined questions that show you’re taking ownership of what’s next through his/her input. Just don’t turn this individual into a parent or create a codependency that ruins the nature of the mentoring.
And finally, the last one: _________?: This is the arena of leadership you have yet to discover. Maybe you already have? I’d love to hear what that’s been for you in some arena that I didn’t mention.
Also – I’ve heard it say that you’re only as effective as the people around you. Do you think that’s true?
Thanks for adding your comments to this, and in doing so being one of the leaders in my life.
– Tony / @tonymyles